Left for dead in the amazon basin last you ...
Trip Start Jan 24, 2000
5Trip End Feb 15, 2000
Last you heard....
Last I left off, we were headed for La Paz, hoping to get on the military flight to the amazon basin. We made the flight, after a two hour delay. It was indeed on a military airline -- TAM -- and since it was military, they really didnt have to be to keen on customer service. But since there is so much to write about, I will do my best to not waste time writing on how much I hate that airline. We arrived in Rurrenabaque in about an hour and the temperature went from about 50 to 90, from 0 humidity to 95%. Needless to say I was somewhat uncomfortable when I stepped off the airport. An interesting note is that the plane was a twin prop that had to land on a grass runway. Pretty scary at the time
The town looks like it should be in some Vietnam war city. They are just now paving about 2 blocks of the roads -- the rest are all dirt (or should I say mud). Poor people everywhere, wearing sandals and t-shirts from random places from the US (we think they got them through some kind of salvation army - red cross donation) We arranged for 2 days 2 nights in the jungle and 2 days, 1 night in the pampas in town for USD20 per day, including food. We were very excited, and headed out to the Jungle at 10am the following day. To get to the jungle we had to ride in a really long, narrow boat up the Beni river (a tributary of the Amazon) for about 5 hours in the scorching heat. It was a beautiful ride, but the boat was not the best -- the guides had to continually scoop water out of the boat because it leaked. We arrived OK in the jungle..
In the Jungle
It was humid in Rurrenabaque, but nothing like this. It was so humid in the jungle that clothes that I hadnt even worn yet were damp...very damp
The Jungle also had a really nice swimming hole near the camp
The 2nd day in the jungle we did a 6 hour hike - the majority of the hike was not even on a trail. The guide just took the machete and hacked his way through very dense foliage, blazing the path. We saw some more wildlife (few birds, really large toad) but nothing really exciting.
The excitement came that evening. There were only 3 of us left at the camp with the guide -- the rest had left for a camp further in the jungle. Earlier in the day we had set a net in the river to try to catch fish, and we went back at night to retrieve the fish. We approached the net in the boat, shining the flashlights in the area. The guide suddenly yells out MIRA MIRA (look look!) -- right where the fishing net was we saw a huge set of eyes on top of the water, staring right back at us. It was a big crocodile right on the net, eating our fish. The guides continued to approach the net. I was a little frightened, considering I was at the front of the boat, and it was no more than 8 inches from the top of the boat to the water. Images of old horror movies overtook my brain and I just knew the croc would jump into the boat and eat us. Fortunately the boat scared the croc away, and we made it back ok. Definitely had the adrenaline flowing though.
In the Pampas
The next morning we woke up at 5am for a boat ride back to Rurrenabaque (the boatride was beautiful again, especially because we could watch the sunrise)
The next day we went hunting for the Anaconda -- a very large snake that wraps itself around its prey and squeezes it to death. We walked around in a nasty marsh where the water was occassionally waist high, just looking for this snake. Crocodiles were swimming around in a nearby lake about 20 yards away, but the guides werent the least bit concerned. We finally found one, it was about 7 ft. long. We all took pictures, threw it back, and went back to camp. We headed back for Rurrenabaque after lunch.
Once again in Rurrenabaque
We arrived back in Rurrenabaque on Friday, and had our flight booked to fly back to La Paz on Saturday. Well, it rained a substantial amount friday night and the military said that flights would not be coming in or leave (remember the grass runway I talked about???) So we had yet another day in Rurrenabaque. We met another traveler from Arizona and just played cards all day. We thought it would not be a major setback. Woke up Saturday morning. Guess what. Rain. No flights. Stuck again. Cards were not as fun the 2nd day. But the scary thing was that we had onyl brought a small amount of cash with us, thinking we could pay with some things with credit cards
In La Paz
We are in La Paz now, leaving for Cuzco in the morning. We should have just enough time to finish everything we had planned, even with the setback. The last unknown is the weather in Cuzco. We must fly out of Cuzco to Lima since there are no paved roads between the two cities. So hopefully the weather will be favorable and we will be able to get to lima as scheduled. My next entry will be in Cuzco.